Taking the ache out of the golf swing
June 12, 2008 · Updated 1:56 PM
"Golfers come in all shapes and sizes, but the common denominator for allplayers is aches and pains that stem from the golf swing.John Carlson, director of physical therapy at Kitsap Physical Therapy inPort Orchard, is the only therapist in the west Puget Sound trained in a nationally recognized program called BacktoGolf, a program designed to help golfers find a smooth, consistent, and more powerful swing with no pain.We dissect the golf swing mechanically in the ankle, knee, hip, lumbarspine, thorassic spine, shoulder, neck, head, wrist, and hands and westart breaking it down, Carlson said. As physicaltherapists, we take a look at the body and we make it so their body can move more efficiently for the golf swing.Carlson said there is no teaching of the golf swing itself.Golf pros teach you how to swing the club. We teach the body, he said.You can't have one without the other. As a therapist, I don't know howto teach someone how to swing a golf club. But we know how to work withthe body.BacktoGolf was originated more than eight years ago by H.J. Ferrante, acertified orthopedic clinical specialist and certified manual therapist.He has worked with professionals on the Senior Tour and LPGA Tour andwith hundreds of amateur golfers.Carlson received his training through seminars and advanced seminarsnearly three years ago.So far the results are astonishing.Everybody that we've worked with, except for one person who had marginalsuccess, has been successful, Carlson said.When Carlson got on board with BacktoGolf, he said he was amazed withthe pounding the body takes if not used properly.It's incredible the dynamics required for the golf swing, he said.It involves almost every muscle in your body. It's one of the mostcomplicated motions because you take the end range of motion and ittakes it all the way to the end range the other way in one second-plus, Carlson said. You have a four- or five-foot extension (the club) in your hands and you're trying to contact a surface area the size of a dime.Though he treats golfers who currently have pain, Carlson said he isstarting to get golfers who use his program as a preventative measure.Most patients complain of lower and upper back pain.Part of the problem is most of us, statistics show 80 percent of us, inour lifetime will have a serious incident with their back where it takesus down a day or two, Carlson said.PGA professional Fred Couples, has one of the most beautiful swings inthe game, but eventually he had to have back surgery.Since then he has had to make adjustments in his swing but is pain freenow, Carslon said. Likewise Tom Watson, in his early 50s, is playing some of the best golf of his life.Not because he is winning more, but because he feels great, Carlsonsaid. The ultimate goal is that golf is physically enjoyable, doesn'thurt, and (the patient) has a smooth efficient swing.Carlson said the majority of people he sees not just those who haveaches and pains but also those who are noticing a large drop off inyardage.Carlson said he would speak at engagements and ask people how manyhave never received proper instruction and one-quarter to one-third ofthe audience raised their hands.Bad habits but also poor fitness is also to blame for pain on the golfcourse, Carlson said.Statistics show less than 20 percent of Americans exercise on a regularbasis, he said. That's probably going to include golfers, too."